Stephane Peterhansel will be looking to defend the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge title.
As attention turns to the 32nd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC), preparations for the event are well underway under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region.
The much-anticipated rally will kick off on February 25, 2023 with exciting changes to the route that will take the drivers and riders to unfamiliar territory, as the ADDC continues to provide one of the most dramatic settings in the fledgling World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).
The undersecretary of the Ruler’s Representative Court Al Dhafra Region, Nasser Al Mansoori, said: “The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge represents Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s unwavering support for events and specifically for sporting events.
“His commitment to activating the sport has brought a high-profile and international event to this region and the people here, and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge continues to showcase the amazing natural beauty and cultural wealth that Al Dhafra has to offer to the world.”
The government has played a central part in coordinating and facilitating the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, liaising with other departments and stakeholders in Al Dhafra Region to establish a strategy to deliver an adrenaline-charged rally-raid event.
Aref Hamad Al-Awani, Secretary-General of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude for the support and patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region. This Desert Challenge confirms the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s position as a major player on the map of global events.
“At the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, we strongly believe in the importance of international sporting events that contribute to the community. The ADDC is a jewel in the crown of this country’s sporting achievements, where some of the best competitors gather from all over the world.”
For three decades the Desert Challenge has delivered some of the best cross-country rallying in the sport. This year, organisers the Emirates Motorsports Organisation (EMSO), are excited to present an all-new version of the event in its role as the second round of the W2RC.
This year’s competitors will have an even longer route to tackle, taking on 237 kilometres more than in 2022 for an intimidating total of 2170 kilometres.
The formidable route will take the ADDC to Al Dhannah city, previously known as Al Ruwais, marking a first for the Desert Challenge and the first ever rally to visit Al Dhannah.
Such a feat could not have been achieved without the ADNOC Distribution, who have played a key role as part of the engine behind developments in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Khalid Bin Sulayem, the EMSO President, added: “Together with the support of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and key sponsors like ADNOC Distribution, the EMSO are delighted to have driven such change in the running of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
“To be able to evolve the route and bring our prestigious event to Al Dhannah is truly exciting progress. We are looking to push further development in these areas and to highlight how these cities contribute to our region’s success. Much like Al Dhannah, the ADDC has risen from humble origins to play a crucial role in the makeup of our community.”
The Desert Challenge has been situated as the second event in the W2RC calendar since the championship’s inception last year, injecting exhilarating action into the FIA and FIM categories. Following the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, Sebastien Loeb and Kevin Benavides currently top the provisional standings in the FIA and FIM categories respectively.
Last year, Team Audi Sport’s Stephane Peterhansel teamed up with fellow Frenchman Edouard Boulanger to secure a start-to-finish victory in his revolutionary new Audi RS Q e-tron at the five-day Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
As the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge progresses in its new era, the Middle East’s most established cross-country rally is delivered with the support of the rally’s strategic partners: the Ruler’s Representative Court in Al Dhafra Region; Abu Dhabi Sports Council; This year’s Energy partner ADNOC Distribution; Automotive partner Al-Futtaim Toyota; Abu Dhabi Aviation; Al Ain Water; Governmental support from the Ministry of Defence & UAE Armed Forces , Abu Dhabi Police, Civil Defence, Abu Dhabi Distribution Co, Al Dhafra Region Municipality, and our media partner Abu Dhabi Sports TV.